07TBILISI3179, TBILISI ELECTIONS UPDATE 12/28/2007

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI3179 2007-12-28 13:28 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO1167
PP RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #3179/01 3621328
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 281328Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
INFO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8544

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 TBILISI 003179 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/28/2017 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KDEM GG
SUBJECT: TBILISI ELECTIONS UPDATE 12/28/2007 
 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
-------------------------- 
ODIHR SECOND INTERIM REPORT 
--------------------------- 
 
1.  (U) ODIHR's second report was released on December 28 and 
notes that the campaign environment has been soured by 
allegations of use by Saakashvili of budgetary funds, unequal 
campaign conditions, intimidation, and vote buying.  OSCE 
ODIHR has received information and first hand accounts which 
indicate that some of these claims are credible.  OSCE/ODIHR 
long term observers have substantiated that some 
opposition-appointed members of the Precinct Electoral 
Commissions (PECs) were not informed about inaugural PEC 
meetings.  Initial ODIHR media monitoring indicates a lack of 
balance in the news coverage of most monitored TV stations, 
with Saakashvili generally receiving the most coverage. 
 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
AMBASSADOR RAISES ODIHR CONCERNS WITH BURJANADZE 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
 
2.  (C) Ambassador Boden told Ambassadors on December 28th 
that ODHIR's major concerns revolve around the allegations of 
the use of intimidation during the pre-election campaign. 
Boden was recently in Telavi and saw first hand the misuse of 
administrative resources by the Deputy Governor, who is still 
driving around in his government vehicle while technically on 
leave to conduct campaign business.  Boden said that ODIHR 
has received credible information about the local police in 
Borjomi using intimidation against election commission 
officials, and about similar incidents in Raja, Gordobani, 
Telavi, and Rustavi.  The ODIHR legal analyst told the group 
the opposition doesn't trust the court system and feels that 
they cannot get fair court hearings.  Her analysis is that 
the local courts stretch the law to the limits in order favor 
the majority.  Ambassador subsequently raised these issues 
with Acting President Nino Burjanadze and recommended that 
she address the incidents of intimidation and see that they 
are stopped.  Burjanadze had not yet seen ODIHR's second 
report and seemed genuinely surprised and shocked by 
continuing allegations of intimidation.  She said that she 
had spoken firmly to governors about their responsibilities. 
She said she would raise the issue anew with Security Council 
Chief Lomaia and call the governors in the regions to get to 
the bottom of it. 
 
-------------------------------- 
SAAKASHVILI REFLECTS ON MISTAKES 
-------------------------------- 
 
3.  (U) Presidential candidate Mikheil Saakashvili was 
featured as a guest on Inga Grigolia's late night talk show 
on Rustavi-2 on December 27th.  Saakashvili fielded 
challenging questions from interviewers about his biggest 
mistakes.  Then, the audience members were asked the same 
question.  Below are key comments. 
 
-- Saakashvili confessed that handling Irakli Okruashvili's 
case was his biggest mistake during the 4-year period of his 
presidency.  Kakhi Kaladze, a wealthy and well-known Georgian 
sportsman who plays soccer for an Italian team, responded 
that he felt Saakashvili's biggest mistake was the handling 
of the case of Sandro Girgvliani, who was killed by police in 
a 2006 incident that became a major controversy. 
 
-- Saakashvili pointed out that he no longer needed a 
"revolutionary team" and therefore would plan "a fundamental 
shift" of his political team if he is re-elected. 
Saakashvili said he would not resort to repression against 
his political opponents. 
 
-- Saakashvili presented the priorities of his election 
program and promised that he would leave a united Georgia to 
the person who succeeded him (after Saakashvili's second 
term). 
 
-- Saakashvili promised that during his second term Georgia 
would become a member of NATO.  He regretfully added that 
integration into EU would not be possible during the same 
period. 
 
------------------------- 
PRIME MINISTERIAL DEBATE 
------------------------- 
 
4.  (U) Inga Grigolia's late night television show on 
November 27th also included a second segment featuring point 
and counter-point from the current Prime Minister Lado 
Gurgenidze and two Prime Minister hopefuls, Salome 
 
TBILISI 00003179  002 OF 003 
 
 
Zourabichvili and Irakli Iashvili, New Rights Party.  The 
segment featured mainly Zourabichvili who lashed out at the 
government with accusations of voter intimidation, lack of 
access to media for opposition candidates, and refusal of the 
government to address opposition members' concerns. 
Gurgenidze adroitly answered the accusations with specifics, 
leaving Zourabichvili ill-equipped with generalizations to 
counter the administration's points.  The overall impression 
from viewers we talked to was that the administration soundly 
trounced the opposition candidates on substantive issues. 
 
-------------------------- 
BODEN PREVIEWS ODIHR REPORT 
--------------------------- 
 
5.  (C)  Ambassador met privately December
 26 with OSCE ODIHR 
Chief Dieter Boden to discuss the current situation following 
the publication of the Patarkatsishvili coup plot tapes. 
Boden said he had met earlier in the day with Acting 
President Burjanadze to preview for her the second interim 
report which would be published by December 28.  Boden showed 
the Ambassador the current draft of key findings.  The most 
critical finding was criticism of Saakashvili for improper 
use of administrative resources.  Boden said that over the 
weekend Saakashvili had "opened" a new pipeline in the 
Samtskhe-Javakheti region.  He had used not only the 
Presidential helicopter, but a military helicopter 
accompanied him.  Boden said he asked Burjanadze why 
Saakashvili had opened the pipeline; wouldn't this have been 
more appropriate for her as Acting President.  Boden said she 
acknowledged the point, but did not have a good answer. 
Boden said he told her this kind of action will reignite the 
debate over improper use of administrative resources.  Boden 
also intended to raise this with Presidential Spokesman 
Bakradze in a meeting later in the evening. 
 
6.  (C)  Boden asked if the US intended to issue a statement 
warning against excesses after the election results were 
known.  The Ambassador reviewed what he had said to the press 
earlier in the day, and said we were finalizing an op-ed 
statement for Assistant Secretary Fried.  The ambassador said 
he was also discussing with the OSCE Rep and other 
Ambassadors a possible statement on this issue for the local 
OSCE Ambassadors to issue.  He said one needed to be careful 
with such a statement so that it was not interpreted as 
implicit support for Saakashvili.  The real problem was that 
there were some opposition leaders who are determined to 
launch post-election protests no matter what OSCE ODIHR or 
other experts say.  They have no rational goal in mind, other 
than showing their anger toward the "hated Misha."  Boden 
said he was thinking about the "January 6 problem", saying 
that if the final report of ODIHR on the election finds that 
the process of the election went well but that there were a 
number of problems with the campaign (e.g. misuse of 
administrative resources) the opposition will use any 
criticism to try and discredit the entire process.  Boden 
noted in this regard that he had been impressed with the work 
of the new CEC Chairman and his dedication to ensuring a free 
election.   Boden clearly seemed to be already thinking 
through his final report, and how it would be received not 
just internationally but domestically in Georgia. 
 
----------------------------- 
CEC OUTLINES ITS VOTING RULES 
----------------------------- 
 
7.  (SBU) CEC lawyer Archil Asanashvili briefed us December 
26 on the implications of the CEC's new composition (6 
opposition-appointed members, 1 from the National Movement, 
and 6 appointed by the President and Parliament) for key CEC 
decisions during the election.  He noted that the CEC is 
required to have a two-thirds majority to make certain kinds 
of decisions.  This was the case recently when the 6 
opposition members blocked a plan to organize voting for 
Georgian troops in Iraq.  (A court subsequently ordered the 
CEC to organize such voting, in order to protect the rights 
of Georgian soldiers serving abroad.)  But for most 
decisions, including the certification of results, 
announcement of preliminary results, and (with some limited 
exceptions) de-certification of any candidates, the CEC is 
able to act based on a simple majority of 7 votes. 
 
----- 
IMEDI 
----- 
 
8.  (C)  Lewis Robertson, General Manager of Imedi TV, told 
post press officer that Marty Pompadour, Executive Vice 
President of News Corp and President of News Corp Europe, had 
made the decision to shut down Imedi.   Roberston said he had 
argued that the station should not be closed as it had been 
 
TBILISI 00003179  003 OF 003 
 
 
off the air for 35 days and had fought hard to return to 
broadcasting.  With the staff defections and other threatened 
walkouts by employees, it has become problematic to produce 
newscasts.  Robertson expressed fears about what will happen 
on January 6th, wondering whether there would be violence. 
He said that Pompadour was going to announce in New York City 
that it was News Corp's decision to close the station. 
 
9.  (U)  Prime Minister Lado Gugenidze said that the decision 
to close Imedi was made by the owners, and not the 
government.  He expressed the hope that the channel will 
resume broadcasts soon and that Imedi staff will continue to 
work in the usual regime. 
 
---------- 
G.I.s Vote 
---------- 
 
10.  (U)  The Tbilisi Defense AttachQ Office is working with 
the Central Election Commission to airlift CEC members and 
voting materials to Georgian military members in Iraq.  The 
current plan is for CEC representatives to depart Tbilisi on 
2 January and to complete all voting in Iraq and return to 
Tbilisi on 6 January.  Currently seven members of the CEC are 
planning on making the trip; it is unclear at this point if 
opposition members will also travel.  Post is working to 
coordinate helicopter lift for the CEC members from Baghdad 
to the nine different locations where Georgian military 
members currently serve throughout Iraq. 
 
---------------------- 
Criminal Investigation 
---------------------- 
 
11.  (C)  The British Charge D'Affaires told Ambassador that 
the Georgians are now discussing with British authorities the 
Badri Patarkatsishvili case, and specifically whether he 
could be arrested for plotting a coup from British soil. 
This question has come to light due to the Patarkatsishvili 
coup tapes, where he discusses fomenting unrest in Georgia. 
At the time of the recordings, Patarkatsishvili was both in 
Israel and the United Kingdom.  Contrary to some public 
statements otherwise, the British government did not tape any 
telephone conversations between Patarkatsishvili and others 
as it is against British law. 
 
TEFFT

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